The recent deaths of American tourists in Dominican Republic resorts have left a lot of us asking: what should I do to keep safe during my next travel abroad? Although the reasons behind these tragic deaths are still unclear, there are some important tips and tricks to remember to stay safe when traveling abroad.
The best advice: hope for the best, plan for the worst.
When deciding where to go for vacation, it’s important to invest a little time finding out about the area of interest. Resort brochures are intended to entice and showcase facilities in the best possible light. It’s a good rule of thumb to look up the intended location through unbiased eyes.
- Check the US Department of State’s website for possible travel alerts/warnings
- Look up the destination on reputable “unbiased” review sites (e.g. TripAdvisor, Fodor’s)
- ASK people in your network if they have traveled to the intended destination
- Search for regional travel scams (e.g. the “gold ring scam” in Paris)
Overall, the best research is gleaned from people who have traveled to the destination themselves. Do not blindly book your destination after watching/reading carefully created marketing promotions. Those resources only show the location in the best possible light, without showing the reality of the location.
Plan for the worst. It sounds kind of counter intuitive to being excited about your trip. However, it’s essential so your trip does not become a nightmare.
- Know where the closest US Embassy is in relation to your destination
- Create information cards for each member in your group, especially children (most people do not memorize mobile numbers anymore since they are saved on our smart devices)
- Email travel plans to family and friends
- Make sure your medical insurance covers for situations abroad
- Implement home security tips and tricks to keep belongings safe while away
Once your due diligence has been completed for your intended destination, make sure to be alert and ready during the trip. As stated in many of my presentations and previous blogs, situational awareness is key to personal security.
- Don’t rely on GPS/Mobile maps, always have a physical map to reference to ensure you do not get stranded or wander into an unsafe situation (e.g. incorrect directions that leave you stranded in the wilderness)
- Never use public WIFI to access personal information (e.g. bank balance, mobile carrier accounts)
- Utilize in-room safes, hotel safes or secure lockers
- Always trust your gut instinct and be aware of your surroundings
- Use presence techniques while sightseeing in public places (e.g. look around while walking, keep your head up and do not reference directions/map on the street)
- Deter pickpockets and scam artists (e.g. keep purses/bags on the front of you, do not use a back pocket for wallets, cash, or mobile phones)
The best rule of thumb is to not look like an “easy mark”. Minimize your appearance as a tourist/visitor and adopt proven techniques to increase personal safety. This also goes for keeping your home safe while you are away.
Along with basic home security before you leave, NEVER post on social channels while you are away. Just like texting and driving, “It can wait” until you get home.
Traveling abroad can be a life-changing experience for all. Make sure it is a positive life experience by doing your research, planning, and watching your back throughout the entire trip.
Timothy Dimoff Can Help You Adopt Streets Smarts to Ensure Personal Safety
Unfortunately, danger can lurk anywhere that you are. The best way to stay safe is to be prepared for trouble in any environment, especially while traveling abroad. Tim Dimoff’s presentation Street Smarts for the Individual at Home, Public and Work enables participants to gain the knowledge and situational awareness to protect their personal safety no matter where they are. Contact Tim to schedule your presentation today.